The new school year has arrived and college freshmen, like millions who have come before them, are facing the daunting challenge of dorm eating.
Most will come to realize that after orientation, the quality of their school’s food drops drastically and is not at all worth the wait in line. Luckily, there are easy ways to eat well without leaving the dorm.
A large part of eating in a dorm involves finding ways around regulations. For instance, most schools will include hot plates on their lists of forbidden things. The clever, if not smart-alec, way around that regulation is to bring a hot pot. In fact, a hot pot is probably more useful. You can use it to make soup, pasta, tea or anything else you can imagine.
On the more creative side, an iron makes a decent substitute for a frying pan. It wouldn’t be the greatest idea to fry eggs that way, but according to Northeastern University junior, Brennan Degan, grilled cheese will come out nicely.
“You take a piece of bread, put a little butter on it, then two pieces of cheese and another piece of bread,” said Degan. “You put it on a hot iron for a few minutes and it’s done, it’s as easy as that.”
Of course, you’re not limited to just grilled cheese. It’s easy to imagine what else you could cook up, like toast or quesadillas. Just try to keep the iron clean, for the sake of you clothes and your stomach.
In a more conventional vein, the mini-fridge and microwave are key items, so don’t forgo them. With these, your food choices are nearly endless. You won’t be making steak, but good meals are very possible.
Susan Barnes, a Bucknell University junior, is starting her third year of dorm living and has always relied on the mini-fridge and microwave.
“Right now, I believe there is jelly, water and chocolate (in my refrigerator),” she said with a laugh. “I usually eat soup and sometimes I have salad stuff in my room, or peanut butter and jelly. I did lean cuisine for a while too.”
The mini-fridge provides storage for fruits and vegetables, which gives you the obvious option of making salads. You can also throw vegetables into the hot pot and use them to mix in with some pasta or add some fruit to your cereal.
There are also plenty of snacks you can keep in a mini-fridge. Things like yogurt, cheese and applesauce make great snacks and take up minimal space. Storing juice, milk, soda or water is another obvious but wise use of a mini-fridge.
The microwave is useful for the things a hot pot can’t help you with, like popcorn for movie time. It also doubles as storage space, just incase you need a little extra.
On that note, you’ll need a decent food storage space. In a dorm, that can mean and empty drawer or just a cardboard box. Here you can store college staples like cereal, which makes the perfect breakfast or snack.
With all of these options right in your room, it can be easy to get carried away. The “freshman 15” is no myth, most college freshman gain around 15 pounds in their first year. That’s why it’s important to control your portions and keep primarily healthy food in your room.
“You have to be creative, keep stuff in your room that’s easy to eat when you’re snacking,” said Roger Williams University junior, Cora Tetreault. “I take deli turkey and roll it up in lettuce.”
Tetreault, who successfully kept the “freshman 15” off, recommends that 50 percent of each meal be made up of fruits and vegetables. When she doesn’t have time for a meal, she snacks on nuts for protein.
Of course, everyone has a weakness. “When I really want chocolate, I eat chocolate,” she said. The trick is not to get carried away.
These are the basics of college eating. They are the tried and true methods of dorm dwellers — truly the only people who could think of grilled cheese on an iron.